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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 18, Issue 1, March 1995

Neil Thomason
Pages 15-30

Philosophy Discussions With Less B.S.

The purpose of this paper is to explore various pedagogical tools that facilitate productive and effective classroom discussion in philosophy courses. Adequate preparation for classroom discussion is not merely a matter of doing the assigned reading, but requires students to take careful notes on the reading, to read the text systematically, and to compose questions. Instead of teaching students remedial reading skills, the author suggests a series of assignments (in and outside of class) that help students develop critical reading skills. The author recommends that students hone their engagement with philosophical themes and discussion topics by completing writing assignments prior to class and by working in class with small discussion groups. Teachers can supplement this practice by utilizing the blackboard to outline questions, assignments, and important ideas from the text. The more students engage with the material from various angles, the better they are equipped to effectively contribute to classroom discussion and the easier it is for instructors to facilitate their philosophical growth.

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